Laakhon Mein Ek

My brother introduced me to Biswa Kalyan Rath on YouTube and saw him later when he appeared on Amazon Prime Video in his own stand-up comic avatar in Biswa Mast Aadmi. Television ads for Season 2 of the show prompted me to check out the show, Laakhon Mein Ek on Amazon Prime Video.

When I visited the app, I realised that the television ads were for Season 2 and hence decided to start at the beginning, with Season 1. I went through both seasons in about 3-4 days. Each season has about 8 episodes and hence 3-4 days isn’t too much overload.

I had two broad take-away from the series. One was the lack of empathy in our modern life. We don’t know what stresses and sacrifices the topper faces in Season 1. We don’t empathise with the person running the institution and his investment into the organisation. The show has the point of view of one of the characters and you would think he was quite self-centred when you think about things emphatically from other people’s point of view. Similarly in Season 2, we don’t really look at the health sector and the various pressures that a Medical Officer is faced from doctor’s working under her, the suppliers and the government agency and departments involved. Each in turn also has various strings and pressures acting on them that makes it such an eye-opening watch.

The other broad lesson is that truth comes out only when one person breaks the rule that everyone in the environment agrees to, knowingly or unknowingly, and questions the status quo. Then, too, it isn’t the whole truth.

I would definitely recommend watching the show to get a chance to see first hand the empathy that I think you need in the world today and also realise how difficult it is for a truth to come out in the open.

Watch “Where in the world is it easiest to get rich? | Harald Eia | TEDxOslo” on YouTube

From the text: “Counter intuitive as it may sound high taxes, generous welfare states and strong unions make it a better environment for people who wants to earn huge amounts of money than free markets, low taxes and minimal government”

Sharing this talk since it is a contrary position to what I have experienced in my life.

The Mars Orbiter Mission story

Imran Khan has directed a short movie on the Mars Orbiter Mission and is now available on YouTube (trailer).

The video helped me relive September 24, 2014 again. On that day, I watched Mars Orbit Insertion from Mumbai while my fiance (and now my wife) watched with her sister in Kerala. On that day, she didn’t understand the importance of the crucial Mars Orbit Mission maneuver. But, she got it only today after watching the video with me today.

Must watch whether you follow space and definitely if you have a partner with whom you want to communicate the enthusiasm for space exploration.

Vikram-Vedha (2017)

(This is not meant as a review of the movie. There may be spoilers.)

Vikram-Vedha found mention in today’s Indian Express which reminded me that I also meant to write about it here. Better late than never.

This is how Shubhra Gupta writing in the Indian Express summarizes the movie. The article also mentions Angamaly Diaries, another movie I loved but didn’t get to writing about and other regional language movies.

…the Tamil language Vikram-Vedha directed by Pushpa-Gayatri: it’s gangsta-and-cops-and-robbers aesthetic is shot through tactics that immediately make you sit up and take notice. R Madhavan plays the cop-who-thinks-he-is-always-right with a swagger. Vijay Sethupathi’s bad guy out-swaggers the policeman.

I loved Vijay Sethupati in this movie. His entry scene in the movie received a lot of whistles from the audience and reminded me of Reddington entry scene in The Blacklist. The movie moves from the black and white chor-police narrative to one which goes into the grey shades. Intertwined in this is the classic Vikram-Vetaal of my childhood (whose introduction theme scared me) of question and answers, which leads the investigation forward and introduces the grey element. The connection is brought by Sethupati asking Madhavan “Oru Katha Sollutta?” (Tamil: Shall I tell you a story?), which is how Vikram-Vetaal stories also move forward.

The movie ends with a question that is not answered. Only Tamil movies have this realistic element. It leaves the answer to the question open to the movie-goer. It says not all questions have an easy solution. It is the grey that we have in Society today. Not everyone is purely white nor purely black. Everyone is a shade of grey. We can’t make out how dark these shades of grey are. All we can do is do the best in the given in situation and know that we have no control on the outcome.

I watched the movie at Cinepolis in Chembur, Mumbai on July 28, 2017.

Sakhavu (2017)

SakhavuPossible spoilers alert.

Example, is a great way to teach others how to live. Nivin Pauly’s character is a student politician steeped in the ways of modern politics. His image is a façade of good while he indulges in political manoeuvring using unfair means. His plans for subterfuge of a fellow comrade who seems to be in his way towards higher posts in the Party. His plans come to naught when he is asked to donate blood to a Comrade in ICU.

The Comrade’s friend begins the story of the Comrade’s life who launches agitations against the tyrant tea factory owners in Peerumedu. Once this agitation is a success, agrarian workers of the zamindar approach him. The Comrade agitates by working on the fields. Success leads him to further agitation. The Comrade teaches by example to his comrades in the Party by leading from the front, showing how to lead agitations and how to organise workers. Later, as we learn of The Comrade’s home life, we learn he teaches his daughter by example as well. The movie shows us of a time when idealism and a certain political philosophy was needed to end oppression.

Cut to the present, the tea factory is not working due to various issues including labour issues and profitability. The Comrade, urges a wealthy friend to purchase and run the tea factory to help the people who could not migrate from Peerumedu and forced by hunger into prostitution. There he faces the hoteliers who have illegally built on Company land. It is while fighting these land sharks that the Comrade is stabbed and in hospital.

The Company wins a case in court, with the news that the land sharks have been cleared and will become operational again. The movie asks, rhetorically, if the political philosophy that ended oppression in Peerumedu would work in this new world? Is that idealism, rekindled, the need of today?

Communism was a tool that was once used to transform a highly stratified society into one of the better states in India. It addresses only one part of the equation, though. It works only when there is an oppressed and an oppressor. The lines between these two has blurred and one wonders if, as the movie asks, it is the right tool for a polarised society we live in today.

(Watched on 15/04/2017 at the 8 pm show in Inox Cinemas, R City Mall, Ghatkopar, Mumbai)

 

Aanandam (2016)

Aanandam is a coming-of-age movie looking at the various issues faced by the protagonists on a four day industrial visit.

After watching Pulimurugan we dropped off our aunt, uncle and grandmother at their home and left to Kurla to watch Aanandam. The movie with a new star cast was watched with several flashbacks in my own mind to my own industrial visit to Goa.

The movie looks at friendships, college romances and relationships, has some interesting history trivia and mostly has some decent advice on how to spend your college days. These are given from the various experiences that the protagonists have when they go on a four day industrial visit via Mysore, Hampi and Goa.

I enjoyed watching the movie because of being easily able to identify with various of the characters in the movie with the people I encountered whilst in college. The advice that some of the characters in the film give are some that I wish was given to me when I was in college.The English sub-titles the movie had on the screening was also good with helping in understanding some of the references in the jokes made in the movie, which was nice.

The advice includes not worrying too much but accepting that everyone is as confused when they were in college.It is the smaller joys like time one spends with friends, the learning experience and interacting with others that leaves us with memories in the long run. These are lessons we learn and the memories we cherish much longer than class lessons. One has to learn to enjoy life whilst taking on responsibilities. Else we will never know when our hairs turn grey and we’d have become too old to enjoy life.

I would recommend you go and watch these movies.

 

Pulimurugan (2016)

Pulimurugan is an action film starring Mohanlal and Kamalinee Mukherjee.

It’s been a long while since we went for a movie. We only had a wedding reception chalked in to attend in the evening and so had booked to watch Aanandam in the evening. When my aunt called to ask if we could catch Pulimurugan for the morning show, we decided to go after getting the wife’s assent.

Pulimurugan has two or three strand story. There is the story of the protagonist’s life, the story of the constant struggle between man and animal for land and the exploitation of the forest by miscreants big and small. The story interlaces all of these and their meeting points make the movie interesting for me.

The protagonist of the movie is a tiger hunter but he only hunts for man-eaters. This leads him to constant skirmishes with the law, which does not allow for the killing of tigers. The protagonist turns hunter because a man-eater kills his father when he is only a child. As an adult, the same protagonist admits that it is the humans who are the real trespassers and not the animal.

The protagonist’s innocence having lived in the forest his whole life leads him to break the law transporting forest produce (sandalwood and ganja) illegally from the forest. The miscreants treat him as an asset in their trade. The protagonist at one time admits that humans are worse enemies than animals in the forest.

The last thing that everyone I asked seems to have been going on about was the wonderful action scenes. The action scenes are beautifully choreographed and shot. There are some wonderful close calls that almost take your breathe away and have you at the edge of your seats.

All in all, I loved watching the film and would recommend that you watch it too.

 

 

Kammattipaadam

Kammattipaadam is a Malayalam movie starring Dulquer Salman that looks at the story of urban development and the communities it marginalises. The story runs through the life of the lead character, Krishnan, played by Dulquer Salman and how Kammattipaadam where he grew up also grows or is developed.

Kammattipaadam_poster
Poster of the movie, Kammattipaadam. Image Source: Wikipedia

 

Kammattipaadam is a place outside the Kochi-Ernakulam twin cities. Krishnan’s childhood is spent in village surroundings with his parents and the generation engaged in farming. As Krishnan grows farming sees a decline and they become part of the outskirts of Ernakulam. Here, in his teenage years, Krishnan takes on criminal activities like others from his community and income group as farming is no longer seen as a viable means to make a livelihood. He stabs a police officer and is sent to jail. When he returns as an adult, he sees that his Kammattipaadam has changed.

Kammattipaadam is now a suburb with small houses replacing farm land. Builders buying old hutments in bulk and building buildings to house the burgeoning population now coming to Ernakulam and Kochi. The crime moves up from petty crimes and spirit business to extortion in communities who stand up to builder lobby that seek to clear people without adequate compensation for the land. The same criminals seem to learn the folly of their ways too late and lose their own land are themselves displaced. The compensation makes up for the price of land but does not make up for the loss of livelihoods.

Moving from farming, many of the people displaced take up plying vehicles, running small businesses and somehow surviving while others take to even more serious crimes like murder. Some who learn the folly of their ways are also not allowed to move out as the past comes back to haunt them.

The movie itself is a rare crime-drama film in Malayalam with realistic portrayals from various actors. The film does not seek to answer how to fix the issues that it raises but rather holds up a mirror to the urban community to show that this is probably how the buildings that you live in was built up – on the blood and toil of communities and people who were extorted and murdered to fulfil the whims of early developers who were driven by the greed of money.

It could be that this was not the case, but the movie makes you curious about how your urban sprawl grew, what was there before and the people who once called that land home.

 

Don 2

This article originally appeared on my blog http://lifeofpradeep.wordpress.com. I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.

It was a quick decision made a little after we boarded the company bus heading to Bharuch. We would watch Don 2. The back rows of the cinema hall was booked and the cinema house had taken the opportunity to hike ticket prices. We got a middle row seats for 9.45 pm show. We managed a dosa before the show by way of something to eat. As the show began, we found more colleagues from work.

Watching a movie here is an interesting experience. People are not inhibitted from whistling, passing comments loudly or clapping. Quite different from the sophisticated cinema goers to the multiplex in a city like Mumbai. But, here it’s sort of in a good way and it adds to the experience rather than subtract from it. I think if you watch a movie with opinionated Indians, you have to bear with some of their opinions as well.

The movie itself, despite the reviews I heard was very good. It was awesome. The storyline kept rolling, there was an element of mystery involved and in the end, the jigsaw puzzle is solved for us. The camera work really added in keeping that element of mystery while trying to find out how the hero managed to pull it off at all. The director (I like Farhan Akthar’s movies and believe in the auteur theory of cinema) does do us a service by not trying to force song and dance sequences where they do not fit in. I enjoyed the car chases (though not up to Hollywood quality) and the action sequences in the filmas well. The only bit of criticism that I can offer for the movie was its lacklustre sound track and that there seem to coincidentally seem too many Indians in Germany.

Dam 999

This article originally appeared on my blog http://lifeofpradeep.wordpress.com. I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.

I wanted to write this before I became biased by any opinion and I doubted if my writing was coloured by said biased opinions. I watched Dam 999 today at FAME, Bharuch. I quite loved the film.

The story is dedicated to the 250,000 people who died in the Banqio Dam Disaster in 1975. The story apparently took 15 years before it came out from behind the Great Wall. I would thin that one incident would be sufficient to rethink dams and the way dry lands can be irrigated. It also is a story in anticipation on what politics between the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala and political gains could potentially be disastorous for 3.5 million people living downstream of the Mullaperiyar Damin Kerala (note that the Wikipedia article seems more about the controversy than the Dam itself!).

I am not much of a film critic beyond saying whether saying I enjoyed the film or not.